The California Department of Education has proposed a new curriculum that would involve teachers leading students in chanting the names of Aztec gods in an effort to build unity in the classroom.
The latest draft of the proposed Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which will undergo a vote for approval next week, seeks to “center and place high values” of the traditions and experiences of pre-Columbian America, and to critique “white supremacy and racism” that led to their marginalization in the modern world.
The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum will focus on the traditional ethnic studies first established in higher education which has been characterized by four foundational disciplines: African American, Chicana/o/x and Latina/o/x, Native American, and Asian American and Pacific Islander studies.
The focus on the experiences of these four disciplines provides an opportunity for students to learn of the histories, cultures, struggles, and contributions to American society of these historically marginalized peoples which are often untold in U.S. history courses.
The students then chant to other deities including Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec sun god, seeking “healing epistemologies” and a “revolutionary spirit.”
The chant ends with a request for “liberation, transformation, decolonization,” after which students shout “Panche beh! Panche beh!” which translates to “seeking the roots of the truth” or “think critically.”
Watch video below showing what a unity chant looks like in practice. The video was taken at Social Justice Humanitas Academy in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where many indigenous songs and chants like In Lak Ech were developed.
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